“A team is as good as its leader,” these wise words perfectly sum up the Mumbai Indians campaign this season. Rohit Sharma, their captain, failed to lead by example which resulted in his team failing to qualify for the final-four stage only for the fourth time in its eleven years of IPL history. Mumbai finished fifth on the points table with six wins and eight losses from their fourteen games. Besides the woeful form of their captain, Mumbai were haunted by several other factors like combination conundrums, players not performing up to their potential and failure to hold their nerves at critical junctures in the competition. Here, we take a look at the factors that contributed to their underwhelming campaign.

A flop show from the Hit-Man

Before the start of the tournament, a lot was riding on the shoulders of the skipper Rohit Sharma who had the responsibility of anchoring a slightly new-look batting unit of Mumbai. He started the campaign by opening the batting alongside the West Indian, Evin Lewis but just after two games he dropped himself to no.4 and allowed Suryakumar Yadav to open alongside Lewis.

While the move proved to be a boon for Yadav who racked up four fifties in the tournament, it was nothing short of a curse for the skipper himself as he was able to register just a couple of half-centuries which ultimately restricted his run-tally to a sorry looking figure of 286 runs from 14 games at an awful average of 23.83. The importance of Rohit’s willow in Mumbai’s success can be gauged by the fact that he scored above 325 runs in all the three-title winning campaigns while scoring quite heavily in 2013 (538 runs from 19 games) and 2015 (482 runs from 16 games) campaigns.

Suryakumar Yadav waging a lone battle with his willow

The one move which paid the richest dividends for Mumbai this season was the promotion of Suryakumar Yadav to open the innings. The former Kolkata Knight Riders player didn’t disappoint his team management as he racked up 512 runs from 14 games at a good average of 36.57. His tally included four fifty-plus scores, the most by any batsman for Mumbai this year. But it was disappointing that his valiant efforts got very little backing from the other batsmen.

The second-best batting performance for the team was recorded by Ewin Lewis, Yadav’s opening partner, who accumulated a total of 382 runs while the likes of Rohit, Ishan Kishan (275 runs from 14 games), and Kieron Pollard (133 runs from 9 games) grossly underperformed with their willows. In all, their batsmen scored 12 fifty-plus scores while the likes of Delhi and Bangalore, the two teams ending below them in the points table, fared better than Mumbai with their half-century counts of 14 and 13 respectively. Clearly, one man cannot carry the weight of the whole team which exactly was the case with Mumbai this season.

Lack of support for Jasprit Bumrah

Jasprit Bumrah had another good season with the ball as he ended up with 17 wickets from 14 games. There were only two matches when he didn’t have anything to show in his wicket-column. Bumrah’s bowling efforts didn’t receive the kind of support required to consistently win matches for the team. Barring Hardik Pandya, who picked up 18 wickets, no other bowler really supported him throughout the season. Mitchell McClenaghan (14 wickets from 11 games) and Mayank Markande (15 wickets from 14 games) shone only in patches which, unfortunately, wasn’t enough to succeed in a grueling competition like IPL.

Markande, who was touted as the find of the season, particularly disappointed as the season progressed. Out of his 15 wickets, seven came in the first two matches while there were five other occasions when he returned empty-handed. Though Hardik picked up 18 wickets, his economy remained on the expensive side and narrowly missed the nine runs an over mark. On the economy front, Bumrah got the support of Krunal Pandya who conceded just a shade over seven runs an over for his 12 wickets but that proved to be grossly inadequate to take his team to the playoffs.

Failure to hold the nerves in crunch situations

This seems surprising for a team which has won the coveted IPL trophy thrice in the history of the competition but it will be fair enough to say that Mumbai’s inability to hold their nerves in crunch situations cost them a playoff berth this season. They were in the last over make-or-break situation five times this season but could manage only a solitary win out of these five. Had they capitalized on those pressure situations, Mumbai would have been singing a different song with yet another playoff finish this season. On some occasions, it was the inadequacy of the runs scored by the batting unit while in other instances their bowlers didn’t compliment each other’s effort or supported in patches. The one time they came good together was against Kings XI where they registered a three-run victory in the last over thriller.

While it may be the curtains for Mumbai this season, they have plenty of positives to take into the next season. Suryakumar Yadav’s coming of age, Ishan Kishan having a taste of greater responsibilities, good all-round show by the Pandya brothers, revelation of Mayank Markande and the achievement of the best catch success percentage of 85.70 after the league stage, are some of the positives that Mumbai camp will be banking upon while charting their plans and strategies for the next season. Hopefully, they live up to their potential in the next season.